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Edition No. 89 — March 14, 2019 
Seniors Make a Difference
The Camden Neighborhood Center
Sister Bonnie McMenamin SSJ and
Sister Colleen Gibson SSJ
March 7, 2019
Sister Eileen Dorothy Maquire SSJ invited Sisters, Associates and Partners in Mission to join the  Seniors Make a Difference Group for a presentation at Saint Joseph Villa on March 7, 2019.  Sisters Bonnie McMenamin SSJ  and  Colleen Gibson SSJ shared about the work underway at the SSJ Neighborhood Center in Camden, NJ. 

Bonnie began with a word of thanks. “Being at the Neighborhood Center and having the sisters at the Villa and all our sisters supporting us has really helped me understand what it means by the words— Being a Sister of Saint Joseph is about relationships.  We feel so supported and we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The Sisters of Saint Joseph have been in Camden since 1874. We are not starting something brand new but building on what the Sisters of Saint Joseph have been doing for over 100 years. We want people to know that when they come into the Center they are experiencing God’s love in a very deep, intentional and joyful way. We are grateful for the opportunity to be missioned in Camden with our neighbors.”

Inviting everyone to  dream with us,  Colleen and Bonnie presented a slide show of the Neighborhood Center and the many dear neighbors.

Colleen explained, “What we are doing at the Neighborhood Center is what our first sisters did. They divided the city, went out into the neighborhood and asked, ‘What are the needs?’ We also stand with the sisters who are currently ministering in Camden:  Sister Karen Dietrich SSJ , and all the sisters in the Partnership Schools,  Sister Helen Cole SSJ at Guadalupe Center and all who minister in the city. 

We are renting space in the Cramer Hill area from a little Lutheran Church called Christus Lutheran. The area that we are renting is what used to be their Religious Ed School. The pastor is thrilled that we are there, and able to reach out to the neighborhood. The people are thrilled that we are here and together we are making a difference. We run a neighborhood center because we are bringing the neighborhood together. There isn’t a space like that in the Cramer Hill neighborhood, where people can come and feel welcome and know we are all invested in this together. It has been a great blessing for us and a real joy to work together with our neighbors.”

With the help of some  neighbor volunteers Colleen and Bonnie conducted a survey to determine how the Center could serve the people of Cramer Hill. The neighborhood is about 60% Spanish speaking, 30% African American and 10% Caucasian.

Colleen continued, “We run a prayer group and have a community garden and do all sorts of community outreach.  Mary Berryman SSJ and  Ron Roche SSJ work hand in hand with us. 

Mary is an incredible volunteer and runs the food pantry, where once a month we give out frozen food, fresh produce and canned goods. When we started we had about 15 families that would come once a month. Last month we had 85 families come and get food. We receive Government Food from the South Jersey Food Bank. Most of the canned goods are donated. The Cherry Hill Food Bank often provides goods when they have an overabundance.

Ron spearheads the ESL classes. We also have a number of wonderful associates who come and volunteer at the Center, as well as people from the neighborhood.

Our mission is dynamic, it is becoming. As Bonnie and I go out share our mission with others we say, come and join us in this mission, this venture, this dream.”
Sister Marie Cecile Iwetz and Sister Colleen Gibson—our history.
Rooted in a love of God and neighbor without distinction, the Sisters of Saint Joseph Neighborhood Center fosters a sense of community, uniting neighbor to neighbor and neighborhood to neighborhood, in the Cramer Hill section of Camden, NJ and beyond by providing opportunities for connection, enrichment and empowerment.
Thank You and Farewell Celebration
Saint Athanasius Parish
March 10, 2019
A thank you and farewell celebration, in gratitude for the years of ministry and presence as a Sister of Saint Joseph who served in Saint Athanasius Parish or whose vocation was nurtured at Saint Athanasius was held on March 10, 2019.

Sisters, parishioners and friends gathered at St. Athanasius Church for the 10 a.m. Mass celebrated by the pastor, Father Joseph Okonski. 
As each sister entered the Church she was given a cloth rose corsage along with a Saint Joseph pin from the principal, Andrea Tomaino. 

After Communion, each sister introduced herself and told of her connections to Saint Athanasius. Sisters Agnes Mary, Walter Helene and Jean Laurich were graduates of St. A’s. The other sisters taught in school, ministered in the parish or lived in the convent. Sister Arleen (Perky) McNicholas sang a beautiful song of thanksgiving.

Father Okonski offered kind words and a generous love gift, a check from the parishioners.
A luncheon reception followed in the School Hall.
Pictured from left front row: Sisters Catherine Bones, Adrienne Bucci, Grace Pino, Jeanne Barnard, Margie Gavaghan, Joanne Uetz, Joan Alminde, Mary Corbett, Agnes Mary Foy, Walter Helene Krimm and Joan Ricca
Pictured from left back row: Margaret Mary Murphy, Lillian Devlin, Jean Laurich and Perky McNicholas
Photo courtesy Jean Laurich SSJ
St Patrick’s Day Parade 2019
Gallagher Family Honors 
The Sisters of Saint Joseph
March 10, 2019
For this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Mr. Leo Gallagher sponsored a float in honor of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. The float, built by Leo and members of the Painters’ Union, could accommodate 10-12 sisters, who were chosen by lottery. On the float was a reproduction painted by the Mount Saint Joseph Academy students. It depicts Rockwell’s mural of a Sister of Saint Joseph welcoming an orphaned child. 

Sister Kathleen Pales SSJ , one of the  lucky lottery winners shared some of the highlights of the day. “We began the day with Mass at St. Patrick’s Church, and it was packed with all the dignitaries from the parade, various Irish organizations and lots of people all dressed up in  green. You could feel the excitement and joy in the air as more and more people arrived all throughout the Mass.

Leo Gallagher, his family and friends were so hospitable and made sure that we were having a wonderful time the whole day. I loved it when people along the parade route called out to us to tell us, ‘ I had your sisters in grade school! Thanks for teaching us!’

The Fralinger String Band was right behind our float. Their music sounded great and kept the energy and excitement high the whole time. There were police officers standing all along the route, and I was surprised by how many of them waved back at us and cheered for our float. 
After the parade, as we were having dinner, we heard more from Leo about his father’s and uncle’s experience growing up at St. John’s Orphanage. 

When Leo’s father was eighteen, he went into the service and was sent overseas. The first person he went to see when he got back was a sister at St. John’s who had written letters to him the whole time he was away. Leo remembers his father taking him to visit the sisters at St. John’s quite frequently. ‘Those sisters were all his mothers, as far as he was concerned. He loved them for raising him to have good values and a sense of discipline in life,’ said Leo. Leo goes to the cemetery on St. Joseph’s Day to put flowers on the graves of the sisters that his father loved so dearly.”

Although the weather was chilly and drizzly, thousands of people came out for the parade and had a lot of fun. We are so grateful to Leo and his family for honoring the Sisters of Saint Joseph with this special St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Pictured from left: Rosemary Golden SSJ, Kate Leary SSJ, Ellen Poist SSJ and Leo Gallagher
Photos courtesy Pat Gannon SSJ, Celeste Mokrzycki SSJ and Anne Myers SSJ
"Rooted in the mission of Christ, ours is the same mission which continually unfolds in the Church, 'That all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you. I pray that they may be one in us.' (Jn 17:21)."
                                        — SSJ Constitutions #17
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |